eBay's New Logo Lacks Personality Says Branding Expert
By Ina Steiner
eBay sellers are still talking about the new logo the company will roll out next month, but what does an expert say? Matthias Mencke, Creative Director at global strategy branding and experience firm Siegel+Gale, says eBay has chosen a safe and generic route that doesn't say much about the brand in an attempt to project a more serious image and catch up to rival Amazon. "I can't say that I was ever a big fan of the current eBay logo, but at least it had personality and expressed the egalitarian spirit of the brand," he said.
Mencke worked on the development of a visual design system for eBay's global marketplace in 2005 - 2006 while at a previous employer.
"The old eBay logo represented the joy of selling and bidding on eBay's marketplace, and it captured the diversity of the people trading as well as the items offered," he said. "Some of this is still present in the new logo, but by setting all letters of the name in one weight and aligning them on the same line, it may look more grown up, but it lost most of its playfulness and energy." Mencke says eBay is replacing the idea of a "level playing field" with that of a generic retailing outlet.
In announcing the new logo, eBay Marketplaces President Devin Wenig said in part, "Auction-style listings, used goods, vintage items and quirky, one-of-a-kind finds are still a big part of what makes buying and selling on eBay special. We hope that's always true. But we've evolved a lot in the past few years, and eBay is much more than auction-style listings today."
Most sellers have not expressed excitement about the new design. Comments have ranged from, "Clean and Fresh!" and "I find the new logo to be cleaner, sophisticated & more modern than the original, I like it" to, "Honestly, I think it's boring, non-distinctive (unlike the original) and shows eBay's commitment to trying to look like every other big retailer out there instead of staying true to it's roots - individual sellers and small businesses."
Some sellers wondered about eBay's priorities in funding the project. "I can think of 2 dozen other things that should be priorities including top of my list, finding a better way to ensure payment from customers (my rate of non-paying bidders has gone up dramatically in the past year) and stricter consequences for non-paying bidders (perhaps a visual three strike graphic next to user id?)"
Mencke said eBay likely spent in the six-figures if not more, depending on the scope of the work.
Companies should never redesign a logo as a beauty exercise or for a manager to put his stamp on the legacy of the company, Mencke said. Rather, it should be done for a compelling, strategic business reason, such as a shift in business focus, or if it has acquired new products and services, for example. He believes the legacy logo is associated with "average people" selling their vintage or used goods, and had a certain excitement to it.
eBay could have looked for other ways to update the identify, he said - "there is something about the user experience on the eBay platform that is still, in certain places, somewhat cumbersome." There are other ways to look at the visual expression, such as how the experience on the platform works, he said.
Buyers will notice the new logo on the site, Mencke said, but "there may be some confusion if none of the other parts of the experience have changed."
See what EcommerceBytes readers had to say and leave your own comments about the logo change on the EcommerceBytes Blog.
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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